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I've been looking into the polyus laser system launched (almost!) by energia at the end of the cold war by the USSR. I've read on astronautix and wiki that this massive 80 ton vehicle was a tks derived design. My question is, was this a manned laser weapon system or an unmanned system based on a space station module? If it was manned, was it supposed to get supplied the way Mir was? How was the weapon supposed to work in terms of tracking, guidance (i.e was it meant to hit the booster as it ascends or is it meant to hit the MIRVs as they were coming down) and firing (i.e. details of the laser itself). I realise that this was all super top secret thirty years ago but was hoping a bit more information was available.

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  • $\begingroup$ The astronautix.com article is extensive: astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 21 '16 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ yes it is, but it doesn't answer my rather detailed questions I'm afraid (as I mentioned in the post above!) $\endgroup$ – Lord Bubbacub Feb 22 '16 at 21:12
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There seem to be all kinds of threads as to what it might have been intended for, I don't dispute your view though here is another view, it says:

Statements made at that time by Gorbachev confirm the impression left by this article and another by General Designer V.V. Pallo of Design Bureau Salyut that the Polyus was indeed a test bed for the Soviet counter measure to the United States "Stars Wars" program, an Orbital Weapons Platform. Platforms of this type would have been capable of delivering nuclear warheads from orbit to any point in the US in six minutes.

Thus something consistent, the last bit rather less so. The article doesn't give any references though so the trail stops there.

Lastly, as everyone likes a picture, this is from the same source:

enter image description here

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